THE demon drink gets more than its fair share of bad press these days, so it’s always good to hear about research that redresses the balance a bit.
Most of us cling to maxims about Guinness being good for you, red wine helping your heart and a good slug of Scotch being a folk remedy for most everyday ailments even when the experts tut about the number of units we continue to pour down our necks, and for good reason: We like a drink, and we like being told that we can keep on doing it.
So let’s crack open a bottle to celebrate research from New Zealand that tells us that couples who share a bottle of wine at least once a week enjoy marital life far more than those who steer clear of alcohol.
Women are four times more likely to be happy if they drink at least once a week with their partner than if they never do, they say.
What’s more, men are more than three times happier with their lot.
Contentment drops with every heavy-drinking partner added to a relationship.
And unhappiest of all are those who never share a drink even though one half of the pair knocks back more than their share.
I can see where they are coming from, but the important word here is share, as I know from my many years of matrimony.
And in the Dee household, sharing a bottle of wine is fraught with unspoken tensions.
First up, red or white? I like to savour the darker end of the wine spectrum, while Mrs Dee is a white girl pretty much all the way.
I’m a sipper, and I like to know what I’m sipping – I’m particular about grape types, country of origin, all that sort of stuff. I’m not an obsessive, I don’t guess the year or whitter on about bramble fruits and old teacloths on the nose or any of that nonsense, but I like to connect with whoever grew the stuff and salute him or her as I raise a considered elbow.
The main question that concerns Mrs Dee, apart from a distaste for the Chardonnay grape and a preference for wines at the dry end of the scale, is whether it’s a cork or a screwtop.
Then comes the tricky subject of drinking speed.
She does like to glug, bless her. If there’s liquid in the glass, it won’t be there long. Not a criticism, you understand, just a fact of life, it’s the way she’s made.
But if we’re in a restaurant and one of those over-attentive waiters is topping up the glasses, she’ll easily end up with the bulk of the bottle on her side of the table.
This can rankle, to be honest, particularly if you carefully selected the bottle and you know that your partner doesn’t really care about the complexities of the wine in question as long as it leaves enamel on the teeth and doesn’t produce a stonking headache in the morning.
Still. if you’re regularly having a drink together these are minor specks of cork floating in the glass of life.
One thing I would insist on, though, is that it’s all very well to share a bottle of wine but it should be considered a danger sign if you’re sharing it in the open air, passing it between the two of you and swigging it by the neck. You know it makes sense.